Myths about kola nut picking

I have always wondered how we managed to live with so many myths for so long. Most of Nigeria myths have morals behind them to begin with but looking at many, the elaborate ‘must not do’ is counter productive.

Given Nigeria is heterogeneous in our many tribes, it’s no surprise we have different myths about the same thing.

Chinua Achebe in ‘There was a Country” talked about his mother’s Kola nut Incident. Apparently in Igboland long time ago, people are forbidding to pick kola nut from the tree, it has to mature on its own, fall to the ground. Picking kola nut from the tree is seeing as ‘an insult to tradition’ – an offence that demanded punishment. Chinua Achebe’s mother spotted by a passerby picking kola nut from the tree arouse anger from the villagers, the mother insisted she picked from the trees in her yard so deserved no punishment, brave enough to take her stand. Chinua Achebe referred his mother as a fighter.

A few miles away is Yorubaland where we are trained to spot matured kola nuts and pick them. Lots of our kola nuts were picked from the trees, waiting for them to fall to the ground often time exposes kola nuts to kokoro obi (weevils) attacks.

We do have our myths about kola nuts picking that says pregnant women are not allowed to pick from the trees. Why pregnant women? So one don’t give birth to kola nut pod?

Both myths are very likely to have similar origin – discouraging village petty thieves. Interesting that females were the focus.

Many of our myths in Nigeria are counter productive after some, many are being debunked but many are still there terrorising people in their minds even when there is no evidence of it being true.

And some… is better said in plain language so the massage is clear.

Vulture is one of the lucky birds in Yorubaland. In my area, the saying is that vulture is a bird to be left alone as no good for anything.

The saying goes: A kii p’gun, a kii j’egun, a kii f’gun b’ori – One must not kill a vulture, nor eat or use vulture for any sort of sacrifices. If one does, the end results is bad, we’re told.

To this day, people don’t do anything to vultures in my area. Good news that we have not contributed to the extinction of vultures in Africa.

Then I realised I have never seen a vulture in my small town. Was my great grandparents trying to teach people of that time  importance of preserving the birds given they only see one around once in a blue moon?

12 thoughts on “Myths about kola nut picking

  1. I am a sucker for a good myth. I enjoy them like stories. I love to believe they are the next stage from dreams & imagination, origins people’s creativity. Sadly most of it was negative.

    I shared a joke recently with some friends about why there are few or no vultures around any more. My offered reason is that there are simply no dead meat lying around anymore because people hunt & eat it all now. Really, that is not far from the truth & I learned that while doing some research for a short story over a decade ago (One I had finished but chose to store away & expand into a novel) Oddly it was about myths & I named it “Where are all the Vultures?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a good point re no dead meat around, it is only a few times that I overheard my dad saying a deer or two disappeared with bullet wounds in which case it will die in the woods and likely to rot away – maybe not enough to attract vultures?

      Having said that, the last 5 years at least have seen lots of ‘dead meat’ in Borno area, and yet no news of vultures sightings – maybe they have migrated someplace else long ago?

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, highly insensitive but really didnt mean it to be a joke, it is our reality, isn’t it? Knowing that funeral is important part of our culture, it has cross my mind more than once wondering what happens to corpses too dangerous to retrieve from BH.

          You just gave me an idea, maybe if we think more about this, it will make our leaders sick to their stomach and change their tactics so as to put a stop to all of this.

          Hopefully God wouldn’t forgive those who have made innocent lives food for the birds of the forest.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s true, I have never seen a vulture in Nigeria, I didn’t even know we had them till now. Some of the myths are actually ridiculous, i remember being told as a kids that alone who crossed our pregnant mother’s legs last before she gave birth, the new born baby would look like that person. As a kid I believed that was true, thank God for genetics, I know better nw. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know! Incredible. The list of ‘must not do’ for pregnant women are endless… The one that amuses me most was about not going in the sun for the fear of ‘spirit children entering the womb,’- I suppose this one applies to princesses as many pregnant women go out at any time to earn their living wage.


      1. Most myths or superstitious beliefs started out as a protective measure.
        For instance, a pregnant woman going out in the midday sun could have a sunstroke and suffer severe headaches or even a fainting spell but knowing that she may not have a choice because she has to farm or trade, they attached some kind of evil consequence to keep her home.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Very true. In the case of pregnant women not going out in the afternoon, I suppose this particular myth came about when women bearing children were seen to be too young to make their own decision – fair enough. Only that today, when most women of childbearing age are old enough, the myths linger on especially with ‘evil’ ‘devil’ consequences that gets people running from one healer to the next.


          1. Another reason could be that they recognised how stubborn women could be when it came to caring for their home/children even if it meant being out in the scorching sun that they attached some evil consequence to deter them.
            I do believe however, that tradition is only as useful as it’s beneficial; once it becomes tradition for tradition sake then, we need to re-visit it and have conversations about re-working it to make it fit for purpose or get rid of it altogether!

            Liked by 1 person

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